Stock Up, Stock Down for Atlanta Braves' Top Ten Prospects for Week 9

Gavin AndrewsCorrespondent IIJune 3, 2013

Stock Up, Stock Down for Atlanta Braves' Top Ten Prospects for Week 9

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    As predicted last week, Atlanta reached down into its system for bullpen support and plucked the southpaw Alex Wood from Double-A Mississippi.

    And with the parent club still needing help in the bullpen, more arms from this list could see time in the big leagues soon.

    Let's see how Atlanta's top prospects fared this week.

    Note: Prospect rankings come from mlb.com's Jonathan Mayo.

10. Cody Martin

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    Level: Double-A (Mississippi)

    Position: Starting Pitcher

    Throws: Right-handed

    Season Stats: 2-3, 3.02 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 50.2 IP, 48 H, 20 BB, 50 SO

    Last Week's Stats: 0-1, 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 H, 4 BB, 3 SO

     

    Analysis

    After such a terrific start to the season, Martin was bound to have a rough outing, as he struggled with his control en route to allowing four walks and seven hits in last week's start.

    However, control is actually the Gonzaga product's biggest strength, and paired with his cutter, a plus pitch, he is primed for a promotion sometime this season. An advanced arm, Martin could soon find himself in a Kris Medlen-type role, pitching in long relief and starting when necessary. 

    His stock is down for the week, but it should just be a blip on an otherwise promising radar.

    Stock: Down

9. Juan Jaime

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    Level: Double-A (Mississippi)

    Position: Reliever

    Throws: Right-handed

    Season Stats: 0-1, 1.80 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 10.0 IP, 5 H, 6 BB, 17 K

    Last Week's Stats: 0-0, 4.1 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 1 BB, 10 K

     

    Analysis

    Jaime, a flame-throwing reliever with control issues, had his best stuff going for him last week. Ten strikeouts in 4.1 innings is ridiculous by itself, not to mention the two measly baserunners on top of it.

    The deal for Jaime is pretty simple—when his command is under wraps, his fastball is overpowering enough to blow away just about anyone. With Atlanta's bullpen hurting for healthy arms, Jaime could definitely see himself in the big leagues sooner rather than later.

    Stock: Up

8. Todd Cunningham

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    Level: Triple-A (Gwinnett)

    Position: Outfield

    Throws/Bats: R/S

    Season Stats: .251/.351/.350, 26 R, 8 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 19 RBI, 23 BB, 32 SO, 9 SB

    Last Week's Stats: .320/.452/.400, 7 R, 2 2B, 6 RBI, 5 BB, 6 K

     

    Analysis

    After a really rough start to the year, Cunningham has continued to remind the Braves why he was billed as the No. 8 prospect in the Atlanta system this winter. His advanced bat has shined lately, racking up walks and hits left and right.

    Power is not a part of his game, exhibited by his meager slugging percentage. His future in the big leagues is likely as a fourth outfielder for a good team, or perhaps a starting center fielder for a team with a dearth of big league outfielders. Unfortunately for Cunningham, with Jordan Schafer's renaissance, he is unlikely to find any sort of job in Atlanta for the time being.

    Stock: Up

7. Matt Lipka

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    Level: High-A (Lynchburg)

    Position: Outfield

    Throws/Bats: R/R

    Season Stats: .264/.316/.413, 33 R, 16 2B, 3 3B, 3 HR, 26 RBI, 14 BB, 39 SO, 12 SB

    Last Week's Stats: .276/.300/.379, 4 R, 3 2B, 1 RBI, 4 K, 1 SB

     

    Analysis

    Lipka and Cunningham share similar offensive games at this point in their respective careers, with Cunningham having the clear advantage in plate discipline and Lipka having the edge in gap power. 

    This season is rather important for Lipka; he's going to need to show definite improvements in his offensive game and begin climbing the ladder to the big leagues or he might soon be labeled a bust. After a slow start, he seems to be coming around though.

    While he is currently playing center field, one has to wonder if Atlanta might try to convert him to second base, considering its stacked outfield of Jason Heyward and the Upton brothers.

    Stock: Even

6. Mauricio Cabrera

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    Level: Low-A (Rome)

    Position: Starting Pitcher

    Throws: Right-handed

    Season Stats: 1-3, 4.48 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 60.1 IP, 54 H, 33 BB, 45 SO

    Last Week's Stats: 0-0, 12.0 IP, 10 ER, 16 H, 1 BB, 14 K

     

    Analysis

    On one hand, Cabrera got shelled last week. On the other hand, the 19-year-old with a dominant fastball and shaky command of his secondary pitches allowed just one walk and struck out 14 hitters over 12 innings pitched. 

    In spite of the beatings he took last week, Cabrera's last two outings were, by and large, successful. He'll spend the entire season in Rome working on his command and off-speed offerings in order to learn the art of pitching, not simply throwing. 

    Stock: Even

5. Alex Wood

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    Level: Majors

    Position: Starting Pitcher

    Throws: Left-handed

    Season Stats: 4-2, 1.26 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 57.0 IP, 41 H, 15 BB, 57 SO (at Double-A)

    0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 0 SO (in Atlanta)

    Last Week's Stats: 0-0, 1.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 H

     

    Analysis

    I had written that Wood, a southpaw with an unorthodox delivery, would soon be promoted to Triple-A after dominating Double-A hitters the first couple months of the season. 

    Well, with the Atlanta bullpen in need of a lefty, Wood's journey to the big leagues was expedited. While his future in the big leagues could still be as a starter, Wood is likely to remain with the Atlanta bullpen the rest of the season, fulfilling both the needs of a lefty and a long man. Until he exhausts his rookie eligibility though, he will remain in this prospects list. 

    Stock: Up

4. Sean Gilmartin

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    Level: Triple-A (Gwinnett)

    Position: Starting Pitcher

    Throws: Left-handed

    Season Stats: 3-4, 4.26 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 57.0 IP, 63 H, 21 BB, 38 SO 

    Last Week's Stats: 0-1, 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 H, 1 BB, 6 K

     

    Analysis

    Last week, Gilmartin displayed both great command and the ability to strike hitters out—the two tools in his arsenal he needs most to make it to the next level. So while he was very hittable last week, he has definitely started to make progress towards becoming a major league starter.

    Gilmartin is a crafty lefty that succeeds by commanding four pitches and pitching to contact; he could learn a few things from Paul Maholm.

    Stock: Even

3. Lucas Sims

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    Level: Low-A (Rome)

    Position: Starting Pitcher

    Throws: Right-handed

    Season Stats: 1-2, 3.19 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 31.0 IP, 18 H, 17 BB, 37 SO

    Last Week's Stats: 0-0, 4.2 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 9 K

     

    Analysis

    Finally starting games, Sims has really begun to flash top-of-the-rotation stuff in the low minors. Big and athletic with a mid-90s fastball and a tightly spun curve, Sims exudes future staff ace potential.

    He's likely to spend at least a season in Low-A while he gets used to professional ball and stretches out his arm, but if he continues posting lines like last week (striking out nine hitters in under five innings), he's bound to end the season as the organization's top prospect.

    Stock: Up

2. Christian Bethancourt

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    Level: Double-A (Mississippi)

    Position: Catcher

    Throws/Bats: R/R

    Season Stats: .274/.287/.359, 10 R, 7 2B, 1 HR, 12 RBI, 2 BB, 24 K, 6 SB

    Last Week's Stats: .313/.294/.313, 3 R, 1 RBI

     

    Analysis

    Last week's line sums Bethancourt up pretty well—solid contact skills but with untapped power and little plate discipline.

    Bethancourt is likely to spend the entire year at Double-A continuing to improve on his plate discipline, and with Evan Gattis emerging as the heir apparent to Brian McCann's catching job, he'll have time to develop.

    At the very least though, Bethancourt will be able to stick in the big leagues as an excellent defensive catcher.

    Stock: Down

1. J.R. Graham

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    Level: Double-A (Mississippi)

    Position: Starting Pitcher

    Throws: Right-handed

    Season Stats: 1-3, 4.04 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 35.2 IP, 39 H, 10 BB, 28 SO

    Last Week's Stats: 7-day disabled list; no action seen.

     

    Analysis

    Graham has been on the disabled list for a couple weeks now, but much is still the same with Graham. He can throw in the upper 90s and possesses a power sinker that produces a high volume of grounders that will allow him to pitch deep into games.

    He has been pretty hittable so far this season though, and he will need to learn how to pitch lower in the zone and make hitters miss when needed. He should be in the big leagues sometime next season, but he could pitch in Atlanta this season should the Braves need him in the bullpen.

    Stock: Even